As the shocking title says, the number of people infected with COVID-19 whose symptoms had not been deemed serious enough to require hospitalization but who ended up dying a few days after being diagnosed has been rising rapidly since last month.
A total of 7 people who lost their lives lived in Tokyo, Tochigi, Kanagawa, and Gunma, whose hospitals are losing the balance between the number of patients they can admit and the number of hospital beds they have.
According to one of the cases, an old man in his 80s should have been regarded as the patient who needed hospitalization because patients over 70 years old have higher risks of succumbing to the virus. But due to the shortage of hospital beds and his mild symptoms at first, a health center ignited this principle, resulting in the man not being able to be hospitalized.
Another case is that of a female patient in her 50s who had high blood pressure, which is also a factor that can exacerbate symptoms. Even though she had an underlying health condition, a health center regarded her condition as low urgency since she was taking her medication and because it seemed her condition was under control. Unfortunately, she was found dead the day after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
The worst case is in Kanagawa where a male patient in his 60s with pneumonia symptoms passed away last week. Pneumonia is the highest risk of COVID-19 and his blood oxygenation level was low, but a health center didn’t authorize his hospitalization since the patient looked fine, had no difficulty conversing, and had expressed wanting to stay home. The problem was that the decision was made without a doctor’s diagnosis even though his blood oxygenation level was low. The government of Kanagawa prefecture said it would investigate the case and give instructions to the health center.
In Tokyo, the number of patients who stay home with “mild” symptoms has increased to over 8,000, about 7 times higher than last month. In Japan, the numbers of patients are not as big as the ones seen in the U.S. and Europe, but the low number of ICUs and the vulnerable medical system have contributed to this tragedy. This problem has existed for a long time and the pandemic worsened it sharply. Experts of viral infectious diseases have issued an alert and encouraged people (especially patients staying at home) to prepare pulse oximeters to check their blood oxygen levels everyday and not to dismiss sudden changes in their condition.
Stay home. Stay safe. Protect your own life and that of others.